Intrapersonal skills for sales performance | Sunday Observer

Intrapersonal skills for sales performance

7 March, 2021

Intrapersonal relationships or “within the self” skills are factors about self-awareness and controlling a person’s own internal attitudes and emotions. Some experts refer to these factors as abilities, traits or, attitudes of an individual.

Whatever terminology is used to describe the term, these essential features play a significant role in determining success in personal selling and the overall performance of a salesman. 

The five factors related to intrapersonal relationships are empathy, ego-drive, ego-strength, enthusiasm, and efficiency. The intrapersonal skills form the foundation to manage and navigate the salespersons ‘interpersonal’ relationships when interacting with customers. 

This essentially important subject was first taught to me by one of my superiors in the early days of my sales career that spans over forty years. Since then, during the entire period in my career, I have always attempted to apply these skills in selling situations. In the later years, as a trainer, I have passed whatever I have experienced to thousands of participating salespeople.  

Genuine interaction

When described in simple terms, empathy is someone’s ability to feel others’ emotions and behaviour. A salesperson with a good sense of empathy understands the reactions of a customer in the first few minutes of a conversation, whether it is face to face, over the telephone, or even written communication.

The salesman does not follow the pre-arranged sales track but functions in terms of genuine interaction with the customer. This practice allows the salesman to adjust his pitch or make necessary modifications to a sales presentation or a discussion with the customer with a sincere approach.  

Empathy builds trust in customers as they feel good when the salesman displays understanding. Naturally, when the customer feels comfortable that the approach of the salesperson, as an individual is genuine, they usually respond on equal terms. This allows the salesperson to ask more questions and obtain more information about the customers’ needs.   

When the salesperson approaches the customer with empathy and has a closer and more understanding dialog, the chances of defining the actual need can enhance tremendously and in turn, the solution also becomes more effective. Empathy can lead to a stronger bond and lasting relationship with the customer. The genuine rapport built with a customer is vitally important for repeat future relationships.   

Ego-drive is the inner need to persue a goal or a dream and treat the winn as personal fulfillment. Ego-driven individuals treat winning as an intensely personal reward; hence do not give up the effort easily.

They usually are people with an overwhelming desire to succeed under every circumstance. Ego-drive is an extremely powerful enhancement of self-esteem that comes without being aggressive or ambitious. The ego-driven salesman needs successful achievement not only for material benefits but also for the feeling of satisfaction.  

Motivated salesman

For example, in the field of selling, customers more often refuse to buy than accept a product or service offered by salespeople. However, a properly motivated salesman is mentally prepared to withstand continuous rejections and keep on pursuing customers until they close a sale.

This is a fact that is experienced by any career salesman in his or her selling career. Ego-drive is the courage, interest, and enthusiasm of the salesperson to canvass the next customer, no matter that he was rejected by the last ten customers he approached.  

The amalgamation of these two skills, empathy and ego drive, is essential to a professional salesman. A person with a high level of the ego-drive and low level of empathy and vice versa does not complete a successful sale.

Therefore, a well-balanced ego and empathy are required to derive the best result. When a salesperson intensely follows customers, he or she needs to be empathetic about all criteria concerning the customer to make him feel comfortable. If not, the customer may misread ego-drive as aggression. Hence, the balance of the two attributes is essential and that distinguishes a successful salesman and a mediocre one. 


A professional salesman most often takes a loss of a sale as a personal defeat. Hence, he or she needs resilience to bounce back from refusal or rejection and be more enthusiastic and motivated to make another effort. This characteristic is known as ego-strength. This inner strength makes them feel encouraged even if a sale is lost. 

However, it must be noted that the salesperson needs to strike a balance in ego-strength. Those with low ego strength will feel discouraged when confronted with rejections while those with too much ego strength will be unyielding and too rigid towards a customer. The correct level of ego-strength can help salespersons to maintain emotional stability and cope up with stress.  

The commitment and the belief to his or her organisation’s products or services is the enthusiasm of a salesperson. Through this belief, they always become committed to providing the best satisfaction to the customer with sincere intentions.

This trait is also extremely important as the slightest hesitation due to doubt about the product on discussion with the customer can cost the sale. The buyers easily identify uncertainty in a salesman and they may reject the product if they become uncertain.  

Selling is also known as a transfer of enthusiasm. The more enthusiastic and convinced the salesman when presenting his product, the delivery becomes sharper, accurate, and more effective.

If successful, the enthusiasm of the salesperson gets transferred to the buyer to help make the buying decision more confidently. When the salespeople naturally and honestly admire and appreciate the company and its products more, the level of enthusiasm and commitment becomes higher, and they genuinely care about the customer.    

Inner drive

Enthusiasm, however, must not be confused with the excitement. Excitement is a temporary feeling that one experiences in an isolated special situation. In contrast, enthusiasm is the inner drive with excitement, inspiration, motivation, and determination the salesman feels to succeed in a selling situation. 

Enthusiasm, empathy, ego-strength, and ego-drive relate to the effectiveness dimension of sales performance. They are four of the most important factors in selling. However, efficiency in selling also must be on hand to be a successful career salesman.

In the quest for the sale, the salesperson expands time, energy, and the organisation’s resources efficiently. Schedules, checklists, reports, and budgets facilitate efficient performance although historically salesmen are not very fond of paperwork. Hence, this is an area where the management needs to motivate the salesperson. 

The efficiency and effectiveness of the individual salesperson, as well as the entire sales team, are two important factors for the revenue generation of a business.

While the effectiveness relates to the team’s ability to convert a prospect into a buyer, efficiency is the speed of the sales operation that determines how quickly the conversion takes place. The sales process which is efficient and effective can close sales more effectively and faster.  


In the modern era of selling, there are ways to improve efficiency. Most successful companies are already into specifying business goals and setting up key performance indexes.

This is one of the most important first steps that can be practiced to prevent arbitrary running around. Creating a standard and consistent sales process, providing training to sales and support staff, using a suitable software application to generate leads and monitor progress are some of the measures that can be taken to enhance sales effectiveness. 

Intrapersonal skills are important ingredients for a professional salesman to succeed as they provide assistance to them to self-regulate. Strong self-regulation helps individuals to manage behaviour and emotions, face challenges with confidence and work toward goals regardless of distractions. 

Some of these traits are natural to some people whilst others have to be educated and trained. The good news is that intrapersonal intelligence can be cultivated in people easily through coaching effectively. More importantly, intrapersonal skills are extremely useful not only in the selling profession but also for everyone to practice in day-to-day life.